Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Encouraging Signs

After many months of waiting, Brad Lidge finally got back in the save column. He faced four batters while pitching a scoreless inning for the second straight night on Tuesday. And since the Astros were actually ahead on the road in the 9th inning, Lidge got a chance to close it out.

The upsetting thing is that Lidge has been the subject of many trade rumors, though the Astros are now indicating they want to keep him. Of course, his value will plummet if he's dealt with the purpose of making him a middle reliever. But if he stays put and stays healthy, Lidge should provide fantasy owners with solid stats over the next two months.

I know the Astros stink, and they just lost a series in Washington, but they should improve somewhat down the stretch. Milwaukee is finally coming back to Earth, and Houston will be playing other teams in baseball's worst division for the rest of the summer. The Cubs should win the N.L. Central barring major injury.

Elsewhere, a couple of guys who had dreadful first halves are starting to show signs of coming out of it in July. Barry Zito beat the red-hot Cubs Tuesday night and Jermaine Dye is swinging a good bat despite the White Sox being a non-factor in the A.L. Central. Luckily I dropped Zito in one of my leagues just before his last start so I missed out. He's been bad overall, but his durability and the fact that he's now in the N.L. make him at least a viable second-string starter in fantasy. With Dye, the fact that Paul Konerko has been mashing as well makes a big difference, but it also just makes you wonder what was going beforehand (maybe the picture can provide a clue).

If you're in 10-team leagues, it's possible that one or both of these guys could be available. And if you're leagues without trade deadlines or with ones that haven't passed yet, then they're likely available in small deals. Don't give up too much though.


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